PARENTS – Perinatal Bereavement, the death of a child

Perinatal bereavement is a unique mourning situation, as “the parents’ expectations and joy at the prospect of a new life change into despair and grief. While perinatal loss is a profound experience for parents, often there is only minimal recognition.

Societal expectations for mourning a perinatal loss are noticeably absent such as funerals and associated traditions.

One mother described the experience in this way:

“When I lost my baby at the beginning of the second trimester, there was no memorial service, no outpouring of sympathy, no evidence that I gave birth and lost a baby”.

It is very important that these parents take the time to create the memorial service, make the memories and give life to each and every child that is gifted to their lives, regardless of the time the gift lasts.

Having just lost my 20 week fetus (stillborn), grandson Eathan, and having a full funeral service, I can personally attest to the healing qualities that this exercise has for all involved. At our service, I successfully encouraged my 7 year old grand daughter to read some poetry, prayers; coerced our young father to speak, mother the same. I can sleep tonight knowing they are all stronger for the experience.

Also, the most Amazing Happening occurred after our final prayer. I personally gathered everyone there to hold hands in a circle, standing around the tiny little coffin, to pray aloud the Serenity Prayer. Withing three seconds of ending this prayer, a Burst of Light lifted from the floor up and up and up through the ceiling; all parties standing there, at the same time said: “Oh, my God … I am freezing! Did you feel that? Did you see that? and so on … ”

Yes, we were gifted with being able to not only give a personality to little Eathan, we were Graced with the Gift of being allowed to watch his spirit cross over. Amen.

This video was made by http://www.gossamerheart.com/ to address the difficult subject of grief and loss. Being one who has lost someone I loved very deeply, I wanted to assure those who are moving through the process of grief that what Emily Dickinson said is true…

“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”

Perinatal loss is a profound experience for childbearing families. Examples of perinatal loss include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, neonatal death, and other losses.

Perinatal loss engenders a unique kind of mourning since the child is so much a part of the parental identity. Societal expectations for mourning associated with perinatal loss are noticeably absent. Gender differences in response to such loss, as well as sibling and grandparent grief have been identified in the literature. Descriptive studies provide information on cultural responses to perinatal loss.

Nursing interventions have been refined over the past two decades as research studies have been performed, in order to more fully promote health and healing in the face of perinatal loss. These include helping to create meaning through the sharing of the story of parental loss, the facilitation of sociocultural rituals associated with loss, the provision of tangible mementos, sensitive presence, and the validation of the loss. Outcome evaluations of such interventions are recommended.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee. – (Jeremiah 1:5)

Instead of celebrating a new life, parents are mourning at a birth. For many young couples, this may be their first experience with grief and sorrow. Perinatal losses include the loss of the creation of a new life; the loss of the hoped for, planned for, anticipated and loved child; the loss of dreams and hopes; and the loss of an extension of both parents.

The death of a child is not part of the natural order of life, since children are not expected to predecease their parents. When one loses a parent through death, the past is lost. In contrast, when a child dies, one has lost the future. Since parenthood is a developmental task, perinatal loss represents the loss of the role of motherhood and the symbolic loss of fatherhood.

It is my hope that this video brings some consolation into the lives of those who lost a loved one. Please come visit our web site @ www.gossamerheart.com/ which offers help and support for the wounded soul. This video was made for non-profit use and we do not own the copyrights for materials used in this video.

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